CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the EU: car manufacturers' performance in 2017

The EEA recently released a preliminary dataset on the CO2 emissions performance of new passenger cars in the EU in 2017. This dataset is used by the European Commission to monitor and evaluate whether manufacturers are in compliance with mandatory CO2 emission targets for passenger cars. The EEA data show that the sales-weighted average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the EU in 2017 were 119 g/km, 1 g/km higher than in 2016—the first recorded increase in annual fleet-average CO2 emissions. The figure below plots the historical average CO2 values relative to targets. Before CO2 standards were introduced, average CO2 emissions declined by 1.2% per year. When CO2 standards were agreed upon in 2008, manufacturers significantly outperformed annual reduction rates required to meet the 2015 target of 130 g/km. Until 2016, manufacturers were also largely on track to meet the 2020/21 target of 95 g/km, which includes a one-year phase-in. However, the stagnation in CO2 reductions in 2017 is at odds with meeting the 2021 target. Reduction rates will have to increase in 2018–2021: As of 2017, fleet-average CO2 emissions will have to decline by 5.5% per year to comply with the 2021 target. Manufacturers will likely also increasingly rely on flexible compliance mechanisms such as super-credits and ecoinnovations to comply with 2020/21 targets.